Hearing loss can manifest in a variety of ways depending on the severity and type of hearing loss. One thing everyone with hearing loss has in common is that living with untreated hearing loss affects communication and quality of life, and the sooner you recognize the signs of hearing loss the sooner you’ll know when it’s time to seek treatment.
Hearing Loss is Gradual
The first thing to remember about hearing loss is that it’s a gradual process that happens over months or years of your life. Hearing loss can be sudden, from exposure to an extremely loud noise, or from an unexpected illness or injury. Normally though, the daily changes are so small that you’ll barely notice them, as your brain is able to make small adjustments to match your hearing abilities. In fact, you might not even be the first to detect your hearing loss. Your family may realize it sooner than you do, as they start to notice that you don’t hear in conversations as well as you used to, or that you’re always turning up the TV volume too loud. If your family starts talking to you about hearing loss, take them seriously. They might be seeing the signs you’re missing.
Turning it Up
A clear sign of hearing loss is turning up the volume. Whether it’s on the TV, the radio, or even the volume on the phone, you’re tempted to have everything set to high, driving your family crazy. If you keep reaching for the remote, or still can’t hear on the phone even with the volume maxed out, you probably have hearing loss.
Communication Breaks Down
Do you ask your family and friends to repeat themselves over and over or to stop mumbling? Do you feel like they should make a bit more effort, and you’d be able to hear them? This isn’t a sign that your family has forgotten how to speak clearly, it’s a sign that your hearing isn’t as good as it once was.
One of the most common signs of hearing loss is experiencing a breakdown in communication. As your hearing deteriorates, the first sounds you lose are higher pitched sounds, like the birds chirping outside, or the voices of your grandchildren. In speech, consonant sounds are often at a higher pitch, so conversations become extremely difficult to follow. Even if you think you’re hearing all the sounds, you just can’t seem to grasp the meaning of what’s being said.
Background Noise is Your Nemesis
Another sign of hearing loss is difficulty hearing in background noise. At home you can generally make out okay, if the person you’re speaking to speaks very clearly and repeats themselves often. But communication in background noise is a whole different story. You struggle to focus on what’s being said while trying to tune out the background music and the conversations coming from other tables, but often it becomes too overwhelming and you have no idea what’s going on. With hearing loss, your ability to separate important speech sounds from distracting background noises decreases, making it almost impossible to hear in background noise.
Staying Home from Social Events
Those living with untreated hearing loss often avoid social events, since they’re worried about their hearing. They miss the punchline of too many jokes and can’t keep up with the conversations bouncing back and forth around the table. They don’t want to ask someone to repeat themselves, or risk answering inappropriately, so it’s easier to stay home than struggle at a social event. If you’ve been choosing to stay home in the safety of your quiet living room rather than joining your friends for dinner downtown, you need to face the fact that you have hearing loss and realize its having a major impact on your life.
Treating Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a lot more common than you think, with one third of seniors struggling to hear. This increases to half of all seniors by the age of 70! Then why don’t all your friends have hearing aids? The sad reality is that only about 1 in 5 adults who need hearing aids get them. Don’t be part of that statistic! Recognize the signs of hearing loss, take control of your hearing health, and visit us at Active Hearing & Audiology to get your life back.